A Maori development company with a one-off, 30-year forest rotation under its belt is basking in outstanding success but shutting up shop at the same time.
On Friday, Taitokerau Forest Ltd (TFL) directors released a mission-accomplished report about the company set up in 1986 to enable Northland Maori landowners to develop forestry.
TFL chairman Rawson Wright then led a discussion about where-to-from-here for the scheme that provided sustainable land use and incomes in remote corners of Northland where otherwise there was little opportunity.
"Once all the forests have been harvested the door is closed on this 30-year company," Mr Wright said.
Another injection of funding or joint venture investment is now needed to capitalise on the momentum and infrastructure TFL set up. That would pay for a second cycle of planting, wages, forest maintenance and ultimate harvest.
In its 30 years, TFL had repaid its initial, drip-fed $31m loan government loan and interest, to the value of $61 million, while paying for forestry development, management and wages on 14 Maori-owned blocks, totalling 4300ha.
The company made a return of $11m for its shareholding landowners, with TFL itself taking no residual profits.
As well as that return and $27m put into infrastructure and skills development, direct benefits included jobs, associated contracts and a guaranteed domestic timber supply (around 23 per cent of total tonnage from the blocks).
Full time work hours chalked up equalled 66.5 fulltime local jobs - or to mirror forest rotation terms, 29 fulltime workers for 34 years continuously.
Less direct benefits were economic, employment and social development in remote, under-resourced communities, business and governance experience and a reduction in dole dependency.
Accountant and TFL director Warwick Syers said the model enabled ''the most pure and economical development you can have on undeveloped land that is not being used.''
Some benefits would endure long after the scheme is wound up, the report by Business and Economics Research Ltd (BERL) said.
Speakers at the debrief said the model was ripe for picking up by an investor or joint venture partner with the landowners. They said TFL had "flown below the radar" even while Maori economic and social development had been a topic of the times.
The directors said they hoped a new government would support an ongoing forestry plan based on the model. In the audience, Whangarei National MP Shane Reti agreed.
"Yes, the Government has to be the long term investor,'' Dr Reti said.
He described it as "a no brainer, a win-win for Maori, for a government prepared to invest, and for the country".
While the meeting celebrated the venture and its respectable economic return, there was a sense of regret the scheme had run its life.
''Everyone came along to get on with the business, the kaupapa, not the politics,'' Mr Wright said.
The 30-year limit was set in 1986 roughly to the pine rotation period, to avoid pitfalls earlier met by big forestry companies which committed to lease or timber purchase deals up to a three-rotation periods.
The TFL scheme was also lauded as an example of iwi and hapu from across Northland working together. As the door shut on TFL, the way forward pointed toward Te Tokerau Maori Forest Collective, a new forestry company based along similar lines, picking up the mantle.
Among other research, the new collective would look at the potential for adding extra value in the chain, TFL director Pita Tipene said.